The Alhambra is a palace and fortress complex located in Granada, Andalusia, Spain. It was originally constructed as a small fortress in 889 and then largely ignored until its ruins were renovated and rebuilt in the mid-11th century by the Moorish emir Mohammed ben Al-Ahmar of the Emirate of Granada, who built its current palace and walls. It was converted into a royal palace in 1333 by Yusuf I, Sultan of Granada.The Alhambra’s Islamic palaces, as we know them today, were built for the last Muslim emirs in Spain and the court of the Nasrid dynasty. After the Reconquista by the Reyes Católicos (“Catholic Monarchs”) in 1492, some portions were used by Christian rulers. The Palace of Charles V, built by Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor in 1527, was inserted in the Alhambra within the Nasrid fortifications. After being allowed to fall into disrepair for centuries, the buildings being occupied by squatters, the Alhambra was rediscovered in the 19th century by European scholars and travelers, with restorations commencing. It is now one of Spain’s major tourist attractions, exhibiting the country’s most significant and well known Islamic architecture, together with 16th-century and later Christian building and garden interventions. The Alhambra is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the inspiration for many songs and stories.
The Alhambra was absolutely astounding. Never had I seen anything quite like it. It is HANDS-DOWN the most incredible place I have ever been that was man-made. Words cannot do the architecture, organization, great and delicate detail, and overall impression of the Alhambra justice. The gardens within the Alhambra, known as the Generalife, Arabic for “Garden of the Architect,” (not a life insurance company when pronounced in English as our tour guide assured us) were a wondrous mix of whimsical trails, gorgeous flowers, and sweet and fresh aromas. We also visited the Palace of Charles V, an Italian Renaissance-influenced palace built for King Charles’ new wife. Overall, it was a lot of beauty to take in within a three hour span and I am definitely returning again with my parents when they come in November.